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Written by  :  Matt Neuteboom (989)
Written on  :  Sep 26, 2006
Platform  :  GameCube
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful

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Hilarious and entertaining until the very end

The Good

About a year ago, my friends and I were enjoying the amazing experience that was the first LEGO Star Wars. We had played the demo of the first level in a GameStop at the mall, and my friend Matt J. got it for his birthday. The actual game was even better. LEGO Star Wars was an example of a game that takes a franchise and injects it with its own charm and uniqueness. The addicting adventure/platformer game play combined with LEGO characters and light-hearted humor made it one of the best games that year.

It’s not surprising then that they returned this year with a sequel, which is not that much different from the first. Not that that’s a bad thing. I can’t stand it when game companies take a winning formula and change it to appeal to a different audience or to “make it better”. LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy has all the charm the previous installment brought, plus fine-tuned it downfalls for an even greater experience.

One cannot deny the charm and wittiness of the LEGO Star Wars universe. Even for adults, LEGO Star Wars is guaranteed a chuckle for those big fans of Star Wars. Every story part and even the characters themselves have a warming and charming part about them. The humorous storyline entices you until the very end, and leaves you with a satisfied feeling inside you. And what is better is that these guys can do it all without dialogue. They can convey an entire movie through its light-hearted and somewhat exaggerated humor. Its parody-like yet innocent humor is probably the highlight of this game. Plus, you have to combine this with the element of making everything out of Legos. Everything is made out of Legos. The characters, the sets, the props, and all of the spaceships are made entirely out of Legos. Just the eye candy of staring at the Death Star from space or the inside is amazing. Every single piece from the lights, buttons, computers, walls, and switches is amazing. Every item and object is build from actually existing Legos in real life, so you could even recreate your favorite scene from the game. Just the work they put into the sets and props is a signature of how much effort these guys put into this game. The atmosphere of the game will definitely envelope you, leaving you with a heartwarming and satisfying adventure until the very end.

LEGO SW II sticks to pretty much the same formula as the first. You are reenacting the Star Wars movies in an entirely LEGO universe. The previous installment had you cracking heads with Anakin and the gang, now you’re going to play through with the more favorable set of characters: Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, those damn droids, and anyone else you encounter along the way. In this one you have got the same addicting platforming/action game with the quirky puzzles of the first. You control your characters on-screen from a third person point of view. You can do things like attack (different depending upon which weapon), build objects from the Legos around you, use the force, rappel on a hook, etc. Every level you (and possibly a friend) get a set of characters (based on the movie canon) to control, and you can switch between them with a simple press of a button.

Each character has a different ability. Shooters can rappel, Jedi’s can use the force, storm troopers can access restricted areas, etc. This is where the game gets a bulk of its puzzles, trying to work around the character limitations of each class. C3PO can’t jump, so often you will have to find an alternate route or build him a ramp. Jedi’s can’t rappel, so shooters must do so in order to hit a switch. As well, there are sometimes Legos scattered about that can be used to build objects that progress your quest or find a secret item. These are the main things that comprise of LEGO SW II, and the puzzles are nearly everywhere. Single player is very refined and fun to play, even alone. LEGO Star Wars II starts off a bit slow, but once you get into it you just can’t stop. Like the first, LEGO Star Wars II is fast-paced and action packed. Lasers, enemies, and allies are almost constantly moving around the screen. The controls continue to be simple so that the learning curve is quick and easy.

In a number of ways, however, LEGO Star Wars II is a bit of an improvement over the first. The most obvious point would be that most people have greater sentiments for the original trilogy over the prequels. This is good, because you will love this game ever the more so. But of course, TT’s also improved upon the gameplay to make it feel a lot more fine-tuned. The game seems a bit harder, with the so-called “adaptive difficulty”. This actually makes dying a lot more common, and the game much faster. The levels are also MUCH longer than the first, making levels nearly 20 minutes long if you stop to find secrets. There are more moves and actions to use, such as melee combat moves, which makes kicking C3PO’s ass all the more hilarious. As well, flying has been greatly improved. Vehicle levels are now free-flying, allowing for a lot more freedom. I thought they might screw up the controls, but they seem perfectly fine, and your ship pretty much goes where you want it to go. It probably won’t seem like it to an observer. Your ship can do flips, reverses, and spins, making it look as though it is a bitch to control. In reality it is actually very easy, and vehicle levels are extremely action-packed and over the top, with TIE Fighters and lasers bolting all across the screen.

Also, this time through, the amount of items you can collect is INSANE. There is so much to do. Some of it requires you to come back at the end of the game to collect stuff at the beginning. So, even when you have “beaten” the game, you’re barely half way through it. At the end of the game, there are still secret areas and items to find. It raises the replay value astonishingly, and keeps you more entertained for quite a long time. One would think that you would have a hard time trying to keep track of everything. However, the game keeps a good track of everything you’ve done so far, providing plenty of in-game menus for you to keep track of, and even provides a nifty percentage bar at the main bar in the Cantina. The variation in moves and characters is refreshing and helps to renew a formula that we played almost less than a year ago. Traveler’s Tales also brings some newer puzzles to the table to accommodate for some cool new characters, which also makes the game play feel fresh for the veterans of the first.

One of the good things is that also, in most levels of the game, there are way more people in your party than the first. Every level can have up to 5 people in it, sometimes even more, given the scene in the movie. This makes the game a lot more fun in terms of how much is going on while you are playing, while enemies and allies dueling it out around you. In the past game, this was only a treat for a few levels of the game. Now its almost commonplace, and very much welcomed.

The best part of this game is the amazing co-operative. Co-operative play is a game mode that many game developers fail to realize the full potential for. LEGO Star Wars II does not do that. LEGO SW II is an example to the rest of the gaming world what co-op should be about: plenty of space, easy controls, and best of all, teamwork. Unless you work together in LEGO SW II, you will only get in a screaming fight. Every puzzle requires a different type of person to help out. One person can never do it all. This makes the game feel a lot nicer, and actually keeps you reminded that you are playing with your buddy, and not just on single-player with a bot running the other guy while you do your own thing. If you plan on buying this, bring a friend, or better yet, friends. You and your friends won’t stop laughing at the fast-paced, over the top gameplay. For those who absolutely loved playing the co-op of the first, prepare to be “wowed” again by LEGO SW II’s fantastic co-op mode.

Oh, and yes, Han does shoot first.

The Bad

I think the main thing is that those who didn’t like the first won’t like this one. Those who did love it are in for a great treat. But for those who didn’t, the new features probably won’t be enough for you to consider this game a purchase. I know many people complained about the fact that you couldn’t die in the first. In this one its much better, as the action is much faster, and the game is a bit harder, the not dying thing is actually pretty nice this time around. But those who found it too kiddy might not like the fact that this wasn’t taken out of the game.

I also never found player editing that much fun. It was there, but I never used it. It seemed like another thing I had to do, and the Lego pieces it gives you really don’t go together that well. You can never seem to create a character that is really cool, and even if you did it really does not have much of an effect on the game at all.

While in co-op, there can be problems with collisions at the edge of the screen. It is lenient, but if the screen stretches too far, you can be pulled back by the edge. This can cause some shouting matches with your partner in co-op. It’s frustrating to be staring at your TV, sucked into a daze by the lure of the LEGO universe and have yourself jerked from that daze by the screen pulling you.

Probably the biggest gripe I found with this game, however, was there was lot and lots of collecting. In this game, you have to go back and collect all of the studs twice, once for story and another time for free-play. On levels where stud-collecting is hard, doing it twice is a damn chore, especially on levels where you die often (like a few of the vehicle levels or Dagobah). A lot of the secrets also require you to wait and unlock characters and come back later in the game, something I wouldn’t mind if it gave you enough secrets to find while you are playing the first time through. A majority of the secrets need to be found towards the end of the game, when you have a lot more characters

The Bottom Line

The charm of LEGO Star Wars is irresistible. Combing light-hearted, parody-like humor with the cute and colorful world of Legos was a stroke of pure brilliance. LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy continues its tradition of awesome humor that both adults and kids can enjoy. This time through, it’s a bit harder, a lot longer, and its downfalls have been greatly improved. If you’re a fan of the first and are hoping this game has all the charms of the first, or a parent looking for a good game for your kids, then do not worry. LEGO Star Wars II is the game you want to get.